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Why we put the original Gilbert Baker Pride flag on a bit of stationery

Why we put the original Gilbert Baker Pride flag on a bit of stationery

It is not as simple as "we want to sell stationery" or even "we want to look like nice people for customers who buy stationery", although there is little point denying that there is an element of truth to that (we did make them for a conference, after all).

The Gilbert Baker Pride flag is not the most commonly displayed version or the most directly appealing symbol of the Pride movement. If we just wanted to look nice, the modern popular version would do a better job.

The answer lies in why the six stripe version was produced in the first place. When the original flag was manufactured there was a shortage of hot-pink cloth so the Pride organisers simply dropped that stripe from the flag. This left seven stripes in the flag, an odd number. The flag was later hung from lamp posts, and so the central stripe - teal - was obscured by the pole anyway. Again, the organisers simply dropped the stripe to solve this practical problem. This meant that both the pink and teal shades had been removed from Gilbert Baker's original vision.

When I read this story I thought this was a shame. The stripes in the flag were supposed to represent the values of the movement, values which have universal appeal: Sex, Life, Healing, Sunlight, Nature , Magic / Art, Serenity and Spirit.

Of these sex is not just universally appealing - obvs - but of special and deep importance to the nature of the Pride movement (as I believe it should be to everyone, but that is a whole other story). Sex was represented by the hot-pink stripe, and so this important concept has vanished from the flag. That is unfortunate, though understandable.

The other stripe - the teal or turquoise stripe - was is also of deep symbolic importance to our audience, our customers, and to myself. I have little fondness for notions of "magic", but magic and art can be understood as technology and craft. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" as they say.

People running agile projects are engaged in the very business that was omitted from the flag for the sake of fitting in with the design of a lamp post. The shape of these posts should not dictate the design of a piece of art being produced today.

And because I take everything I do seriously, I regarded the design of this promotional stationery pack as a simple bit of art. It would have annoyed me to omit these concepts, especially the pink stripe. In contrast, the only reason not to use the Gilbert Baker version - to appeal more directly to the audience - lacks artistic integrity.



Then there is the quote. The quote is attributed to Mahatma Ghandi and although he probably didn't say it, he articulated the themes in the quotation in various places using similar words. Those words speak of the difficulty of being in the minority, as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered clearly are, but also of articulating your own personal truth and fighting your own fight for that truth. Ghandi was fighting to change his country's politics, but the story of fighting for truth is universal.

In life, in work and romance, in study, as it is in politics, the truth is what we struggle to identify and to reflect. We reflect our truth in software, in art, in our political institutions and especially in our romances.

So for me, this little promotional pack cover is articulating the importance of truth, of being you and being accepted as an individual. That's the message we're putting out there for the pride movement and the agile movement and anyone else who cares to listen.

So here we are. We have a beautiful, colourful pile of Pride themed stationery ready for London Pride and Pride Month. They are for sale at the lowest sustainable price.

Write your work on them, put them on your wall and celebrate your love of truth and individuality in every aspect of your life.


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